Sadly my French is tres pauvre so I only understood about a third of the narration, but this video yielded some interesting views of the area around Bouvines.
They show a monument in Bouvines dedicated both to the veterans of the battle there in 1214 and to those killed defending the town in 1914 when it was taken by the Germans.
These two events- the Battle of Bouvines and WWI- are deeply entwined, causally speaking. The map of Europe that led to the First World War was partly drawn at that battle as the king of France secured his possessions. The borders of France, England, and Flanders that were drawn decisively during that campaign played heavily into the development and execution of the Schlieffen Plan centuries later.
There is a reason I went back to very near that spot more than 700 years later. I know there’s got to be. The lives I lived 700 years apart seem aligned somehow, even if their dates and locations aren’t precise in their alignment. Larger patterns, bigger than our notions of time and space, seem to be dictating the players and the playing field as something older than time keeps re-playing itself again and again, changing slightly as causal accidents break the perfect repetition.
One causal accident in this case was the German capture of Bouvines and nearby Lille which moved the battlefield slightly away. This means random chance seems to have some role in how the drama plays out.
As for free will? I really don’t know. I keep thinking of the fact that I chose to get involved both times. Was I destined to make that choice, or was I simply following an established meta-pattern of behaviors across lifetimes without thinking about it?
It would seem that fate does play a role in what happens to us. But how much?